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A new report by the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights reveals the grim reality and figures of Colombia's systemic violence against human rights defenders and social activists.
Colombia recorded a high number of violent events in 2020 with 76 massacres and 292 killed, a report by the Office of the UN High Commissioner for Human Rights (UNHCHR) revealed today.
The representative of UNHCHR in Colombia, Juliette Rivero, stated that since 2018, the number of killings grew steadily, with 2020 being the year with the highest number recorded since 2014, especially in rural territories and communities.
This office also documented 248 homicides of ex-combatants of the former Revolutionary Armed Forces of Colombia-People's Army (FARC-EP) since the signing of the 2016 peace agreement. Equally, it lamented 795 threats against social leaders and human rights defenders, who continue under a state of vulnerability and defenselessness.
According to the report, more than half of the massacres were concentrated in just three departments: Antioquia, 19 cases, and Cauca and Nariño, with 11 each.
14 massacres with 55 victims in Colombia in the beginning of this year alone – in areas with sustained and high levels of illegal armed group presence, key points of the drug supply chain, and home to largely Afro-Colombian populations. Protecting the peace process is urgent. https://t.co/Mxk7qclYTH
This same violence, especially that which affected Antioquia (northwest), Chocó (northwest), and Nariño (southwest), forced more than 25,000 people to be displaced. At the same time, another 74,312 were confined by restrictions imposed by armed and criminal groups.
In 2020, the UN received information on 133 homicides of human rights defenders. It has been able to verify 90 and is still investigating 25, figures higher than those provided on Monday by the Colombian government, which reported only 66, according to Rivero.
He added that the figures are representative of the cases known to the Office, and therefore constitute only a sample of the total number of murders that have occurred and do not account for the entire universe.
Rivero expressed that the murders of human rights defenders occur mainly in areas where the State's presence is insufficient.
UNHCHR also presented the massacres that have occurred so far in 2021, which already accumulate six cases (with five under verification) with 21 fatalities.